Horse, then, unhorses…

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view from here

It is finished.

That is, I have finally sent off both my creative thesis and my critical paper to my Master’s program.

The creative thesis I could’ve sent months ago. The critical paper was a particular, and long, labor of love, and I must admit to shedding a few happy/sad tears upon finishing.

I have also removed all the index cards, with the voices of so many writers written across them, from my study walls. It ends up I could not bear to part with the cards altogether, so I fastened them to paper and put them in a folder in my desk drawer.

I’ve lived with these cards and their voices for months now, and although I find the mostly-bare walls more aesthetically pleasing, I miss being able to look up and see the quote I knew would be there, just where I’m looking.

*

 

“Urge and urge and urge” —Whitman

“It’s almost as if we sing to each other all day.” —Robert Pinsky

“Love buries these ghost forms within us.” —Frank Bidart

Plumly: consonance, assonance, & surprise.

“No verse is really free.” —T.S. Eliot

“Wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall” —Robert Duncan

“[S]ilence is finally the only perfect statement.” —A.R. Ammons

“The poem’s form is where resemblance and distinction intertwine. It’s where you can’t tell something. Dancer from dance, for example.” —Heather McHugh

“It is always less tiring to substitute method for intelligence.” —H.T. Kirby-Smith

“Meter developed in response to the motion of human lives… .” —Stephen Dobyns

“I long for the imperishable quiet at the heart of form.” —Theodore Roethke

“…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful…” —Charles Darwin

Paul Fussell: the pleasures of meter are physical

“I and this mystery here we stand” —Whitman

“Craft dries your tears.” —Molly Peacock

“The rhythm is like an other, attending to me.” —Pinsky again

Calvino: not light like a feather, light like a bird.

“The form of the poem unlocks the mind to old pleasures.” —Donald Hall

“Form is condemned to an eternal danse macabre with meaning. I couldn’t unpeach the peaches.” —Annie Dillard

Is this then a touch? … quivering me to a new identity… —Whitman

Horse, then, unhorses what is not horse.” —C.D. Wright.

*

And more, so many more. I will carry them with me. It’s almost as if they’re singing to me all day.

from the notebooks

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I love to look at artists’ notebooks. ^^Here^^ is mine. (Well, actually, I prefer to look at the insides of the notebooks, but sorry, this one’s still too fresh to bare).

It is a messy place, scuffed, tagged, dog-eared, x’d out, scrawled across. I’m against making the notebook a sacred place. I’m in favor of messes.

When I start a new notebook, I always write this quote from Robert Hass inside the front cover, even though I don’t really believe it: “Take the time to write. You can do your life’s work in half an hour a day.”

It’s the half an hour part that I don’t believe.

But you can do at at least some of your life’s work in half an hour a day, so there’s that.

Here are some snippets from my notebook, selected at random:

//

“Over again I feel thy finger and find thee” Hopkins… Deutschland

//

Lament for Untitled

//

Also, that Goya painting.

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(Imitating Wright, god help me)

//

3/15/2017 ( and you? )

//

wing
broken wing
snapped wing
snapped wing of your doubt

//

S-P as a Paper Boat

//

Also: the moon as ashen

//

bleh
bleh bleh bleh

Note: written below attempts at poems

//

A.R. Ammons “A Tree Full of Cleavage Bared Branching”—one word from it: chantless

//

papery->chartaceous(!), tissue, parchment

//

flange
rail
cringe
blear
share (as n.)
unchild
shoal
vault
reeve

//

From Linda Gregg’s poem “Blake”:

“I am finished with knife and window / My bed will be underground soon enough. / I will persist in this impermanence / that flesh holds. The body smooth, / the voices speaking within.”

friday roundup: you do not need to leave your room edition

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Here is what the walls of my study look like these days. Thank you, critical thesis.

Dear Reader, I keep starting blog posts like this: I had not intended to be away quite so long. It is still true. I’m just trying to keep all the balls up in the air: my thesis work, my editorial work, motherhood, keeping people (reasonably) well-fed and the bathrooms (reasonably) clean. Laundry (insert deer-in-the-headlights look here). And lest we forget: the poems.

[Confession: I am really good about not forgetting the poems. They are always my first priority, and I work on them every day before doing anything else. This may be a character flaw, but it’s the character flaw that has saved my life.]

At any rate, I’m here to share a few things this cold, snowy Friday.

“to let the words write the words”  One thing I want to share is this amazing essay, “Bewilderment,” by Fanny Howe. I’d printed it off a few weeks ago and finally sat down to read it. First a little background: up until several months ago, my process for writing  a poem was to free-write whatever came into my head, often something off a line by another poet, and often, amidst writing, returning to that line, and then to shave the free-write down or  mix it up or do whatever I needed to do to it to make it a poem. Lately, though, my process has undergone a big (and often, for me, bewildering) shift: Words and lines arrive from I know not where. I write them down. More words and lines arrive. I write them down. And so on until (sometimes) a poem is made. I’ve been thinking of it as the LISTEN & DICTATE process of writing poetry, a phrase which I came across in this interview.

But in this essay, Howe writes a description of her writing process which better describes my own. I never would have been able to articulate it—which is why we need the rock star poets of the world: so they can tell us what we’re doing—but it is exactly how my poems have been arriving and making themselves. Howe writes:

First I receive the impression of a time period as an experience of pure language, glimpses of actions, emotions and weathers. I jot down whatever comes through—in a rush of words. Then I begin to see what is being said and to see it as it unfolds, as if from afar and sometimes I actually stand at a distance from the words that are there. Spotting word-associations and what their sounds suggest and prove about the “point” of this emergent poem forces me to remove my body from the action; to let the words write the words. Letting the lines cohere on their own volition is crucial. Literally it is like watching someone else take form in the dark and I am weirdly disassociated from the action, an observer, a voyeur, though all the objects in the room, and the body, are familiar, are even “mine.”

An experience of pure language. To let the words write the words. Yes, please.

the poem wanders away from the demonstration  Since the election, there have been many calls to many different kinds of action. On social media, in articles, and elsewhere, I’ve read several outright imperatives and a few gentle suggestions that our poems must now be political. That poetry that does not engage in the public sphere and advocate for change is a useless endeavor.

I disagree. I think the act of making art is, itself, political. Roethke: “Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.” Lyn Hejinian: the poet must “undertake the preservation of otherness.”

I also think that poems are the very opposite of tools. Which is not to say that a poem can’t be political and can’t become a rallying cry for a movement—we know poems can do this—but it is the poems themselves that decide what they will be. It is the poem’s will, not our own.

This essay at Lithub by Matthew Zapruder expresses and explores these ideas better than I have here. In it Zapruder argues that poems are an unreliable vehicle for advocacy; that:

The poem is by its nature and design easily distracted. It wanders away from the demonstration, the committee meeting, the courtroom, toward the lake or that intriguing, mysterious light over there. What is that light? It looks like something, I’m not sure what, I’m sorry to leave this very important conversation but I have to know.

He also argues:

The role of poetry in our time of crisis is the same as always: to preserve our minds and language, so we may be strong for whatever is to come. And also, to preserve the possibility of mutual understanding, not by arguing for it, but by demonstrating it.

I guess what I’m saying here, to myself as much as to any of you, is: keep writing your poems. If they are political, so be it. If they are about a pair of socks a friend knit for you, so be it. If they are about the moss growing on the garden bench despite the snow, so be it.

and in a departure from our usual Friday programming  I am not going to share a poem today. Not because there aren’t one thousand poems I could share, but because these words from Franz Kafka seem to belong with the other words I’ve written here today. And because, in a way, they are a little poem in and of themselves:

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

I’m planning to try a little something new here moving forward. Which is: smaller, more frequent posts. We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, I’m wishing you warmth, comfort, and poems, yours and others’.

today

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my “desk” (once again, it’s a kitchen table)

I am at my “desk.” The kids are at school all day. This miracle last occurred on June 3rd.

I am so happy that three out of three kids came home from school yesterday with smiles on their faces (it was the first day, a half-day).

We are still not living in a house. The duffle bags and their contents, which I thought would need to get us through until mid-July, are going to have to limp along until mid-October. At least.

(Do you know of this book?

I love the book. I do not love not living in a house.)

I have bought duplicates of:

  • More books than I want to think about (sometimes you just need Zbigneiw Herbert, …and… some other books)
  • A chef’s knife
  • MANY OFFICE SUPPLIES. Many.
  • A printer
  • A broom, a rake, a bucket, sponges, scrubbers, rubber gloves

I am *this* close to buying a duplicate Swiffer. I am even tempted by the crock pots of the world, but I refuse. I refuse.

The peaches are ripe. The plums are ripe. The tomatoes are at their peak. You can often find me holding my head over the sink, eating some drippy, delectable fruit of the earth. Bliss.

I hope no one ever looks through  my books and reads my marginalia. “Bzzzt” means: I disagree. Entirely. “Bwhahahaha!” means: I can’t even believe he said that. “ZOMG!” means: Utterly incredible. In a good way.

There are two flies—one big, one small—buzzing around my head. I am, of course, thinking of Emily Dickinson. And wondering why there is no fly emoticon.

I keep reading this poem*:

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[*Please note how he borrows from Emily Dickinson: From her letters, “This world is just a little place, just the red in the sky, before the sun rises, so let us keep fast hold of hands, that when the birds begin, none of us be missing.”]

And I keep reading this poem.

And I keep reading this poem.

And Joanna Klink’s poem “On Diminishment” from the current issue of Tin House. Go get you some. The poem worth the cover price.

And this poem, mainly because my eldest is playing football. I am surprised by this. He has football homework every night. I am also surprised by this. I am formulating a theory about high school athletics and the roots of male privilege (I am not surprised by this, and I am complicit). There’s a game at 4:30. Weather forecast: 88 degrees and stormy. I now own ponchos. I am, you might guess, surprised by this.

I’ve been writing, mornings. I’ve been sending poems out. I’ve been doing both things slowly, as usual.

I’ve been typing up notes from my MFA residency. It’s like learning everything all over again.

I have nearly killed the geraniums I bought a month ago. I am not yet ready to commit to mums. I abhor everything pumpkin spice.

I am glad to be here at this blog, writing something, anything.

I am trying to do this thing called “today,” every day, the best I can.

 

friday in lieu of a roundup: silence can be a plan

Silence by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (wikimedia)

Silence by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (wikimedia)

Hello and happy Friday.

Today I’m planning for silence.

By which I mean, I’m preparing to leave tomorrow for a little cottage near the ocean where, for one week, I’ll read and write without any competing demands (laundry, meals, homework help, broken fingers, settling arguments,dentist appointments, track meets, leaky faucets, grocery runs, and the like). And without the sounds of other people’s voices, and bouncing basketballs, and overheard Pokemon episodes, and the chorus of “Mars, Mars We’re Going to Mars” from the third grade play, and perhaps best of all, without the nightly whine of leaf blowers blowing out the parking lot of the grocery store loading dock across the street.

I did the same last year for the first time, and learned what a gift it can be to plan for silence.

And yet, it’s a struggle. Mainly against guilt. Spiteful Gillian, who really doesn’t hang around these parts much anymore, has made a comeback. She wants to know: “How can you abandon your family for a week just so you can go off and (air quotes) make art (end air quotes)?” She wants to know: “Wouldn’t that money be better tucked away for college — which is in FIVE YEARS (this one, in particular, kills me every time — FIVE YEARS till my oldest goes to college). She says: “What if the house burns down, what if someone gets sick or breaks a finger, what if the earthquake finally hits and YOU ARE NOT THERE?”

She’s so annoying.

I counter her, saying: Writers and artists have always needed periods of solitude in order to do their work. I am setting a great example for my kids; I am showing them how to be committed to one’s work as well as one’s family. I am not (air quotes) abandoning (end air quotes) anyone — I am doing my job. I am a person who needs periods of quiet and solitude in order to be my true self.

Also, I have left them a bunch of homemade food in the freezer, so get off my back Spiteful Gillian, geez!

But someone has said it better than I ever could (shocker). Here’s Adrienne Rich on silence:

*

Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed

the blueprint to a life

It is a presence
it has a history a form

Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence

(from “Cartographies of Silence”)

*

So off I go, into a plan rigorously executed. I may or may not be around this corner of the blogosphere during my time away — I tend not to do well with grand pronouncements of I will or I will not, but instead with going with the flow.

Whatever you need to do your life’s work and be your true self, make a plan to get it. Execute it. Rigorously. Make it the blueprint of your life. Amen.

friday roundup: Virginia Woolf version with card table and questions

Hello Reader, and happy Friday. Spring break in the P-town is almost over. Don’t look now, but it was actually a good writing week for me. The children were instructed to let me work in the mornings, get their own breakfasts, clean up the kitchen, etc. With the exception of one pitched battle fought over a package of mini-sausages on Monday, the system worked fairly well and I ended up with several revisions, one new draft, and submissions sent off into the world. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about and reading this week:

on card tables and rooms of one’s own  This week on Facebook there was a thread about writing spaces — I can’t even remember how it started, but at one point in the comments people where sharing what kind of space they have to write in. There was a corner, an almost-room with a half-wall, my own three-foot stretch of wall amidst the kitchen, and one actual study with a door that closes (although the owner lamented that the door did not necessarily guarantee an increase in productivity).

Then I came across this article by Susan Straight on learning to write without a room of one’s own. Straight writes about having written in all sorts of places: at the counter of a Mobil station where she worked, in the front seat of a blue Toyota, on a flimsy card table (#beentheredonethat). She writes:

“For 24 years I wrote not while driving but while waiting in parking lots for hours — basketball and tennis and doctor appointments and hospitals, Girl Scouts and plays, driving exams and prom nights… .”

Thankfully, I am not at the prom nights time of life yet, but: Yes.

She writes:

“The whole time, I waited to be alone.”

(Who, me?). She writes:

“For those of you… who might believe, as I once did, when someone tells you there are certain conditions necessary to be a serious writer, a real writer, let me say: I am writing this in a dollar notebook from Staples with a purple gel pen.”

I love to read about how other writers fit writing into their lives and into the spaces (literal or figurative) of their lives, and I feel heartened when I learn (again) that we all fit writing in when and where we can. Yes, Virginia, we all sometimes wish we had a room of one’s own, but when we don’t: Write anyway.

bodily syntax  Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams has been getting a lot of press in the literary world this week. Here is a piece by Jamison on writing about the body. She writes about having found permission to write about the body after reading Woolf’s On Being Ill. The whole article is interesting, but the insight I took away from it is Jamison’s comment on Woolf’s writing in the essay: “Even (Woolf’s) syntax feels bodily — full of curves and joints and twists, shifting and stretching the skin of her sentences.”

I do a lot of writing about the body, and I keep a lot of lists of words, but I have never thought about creating a list of bodily words, or about arranging syntax so that it seems muscular, joined, physical, sweaty. My middle schooler would say: “Poet fail!” I will be thinking about it from now on.

questions  Speaking of the body, many of you are probably familiar with May Swenson’s poem “Question,” with its muscular opening lines: “Body my house / my horse my hound / what will I do / when you are fallen” (whole poem here). This week I read a new-to-me poem that’s in dialogue with Swenson’s poem, and it’s a keeper. Here is Sara Eliza Johnson’s “Question.”

I love how this poem both engages and breaks free from Swenson’s poem, with form that wanders away from Swenson’s sturdy stanzas and images that spin off wildly from the hunting image system Swenson uses. Brava! You can learn more about Johnson and her work here.

And now, to return to the fray: more sausage arguments this morning (there were two left and three kids and somebody was pig-hogging!), grocery getting, prescription pick-up, basketball practice, family movie night, and maybe a few minutes with my notebook at the card table in my mind. Happy weekend, and thanks for reading.

 

notes from a writing residency, not Hedgebrook

New rule: Never go to a writing residency in the Pacific NW without rainboots #emergencypurchase

New rule: Never go to a writing residency in the Pacific NW without rainboots #emergencypurchase

When you live on the west coast and say “writing residency” everyone asks, “Hedgebrook?” No, sadly, I did not get into Hedgebrook, but they write some of the nicest rejection letters in the whole, wide world. Mine is a self-designed writing residency. It is called: I Go to a Little House on an Island to Write Poems All By Myself. You can see that I’m using the word “residency” loosely — but I’m using it because it makes me feel more responsible about my time here than the words “retreat,” “getaway,” and — my kids’ favorite — “mom’s poetry escape.”

But first: AWP. AWP was so heartening and energizing (and also heartening and exhausting). What I loved most was the time spent together with dear po-friends, the chance to look other poets in the eye and say, Thank you for your work, which has been important in my life, and the chance to personally thank the editors of journals who have published my work. Although I missed a few people I’d have love to seen/thanked, I crossed paths with many without running myself ragged. I drank plenty of tea and took plenty of naps. I attended interesting panels. I fell in love with Seattle, which in many ways reminded me of my old hometown, St. Paul, minus the 10-foot banks of snow — neighborhoodly and liveable.

Now here I am in a room. There is no noise besides the clicking of my keys and the shifting fire. I am surrounded by many poems, too many poems, but I know this and that’s part of why I’m here. I’m trying to wrangle some mysterious subset of the too many poems into a manuscript. Yes, it’s the zombie walk again. Zombie walk: a technical term meaning “to walk around and put poems in small groupings until you have them in some kind of organization and order that only afterwards can you articulate your reasons for.” Or something like that. To wit:

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This time I’m trying a method I learned from Sandra Beasley in an online class I took from her. She suggested identifying key pairings of poems that belong together and working outward. To this general approach, I added the idea of “pivot poems” — poems that can act as points upon which the manuscript can turn — and the strung thread of one series in particular, in an effort to manipulate the flow of time in the manuscript.

I am also writing new poems, and reading a lot, and going with the flow and blundering. I’m taking walks and marveling at all the green in this wet corner of the world:

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…into which I will now walk, then return, blunder some more, give thanks for time and space to do my work, and miss my kids. Amen.

Not sure I will be back here this week, but wherever you are and whatever you’re doing I wish you well.

friday roundup: “and so I sing,” another room of one’s own, and a poem

...of the burying ground... photo from wikimedia

…of the burying ground… photo from wikimedia

Hello, Reader, and happy Friday. It’s Friday! The fevered little bodies are cooled and back at school! Break out the hot tea with honey, and clear a path to the desk! I am so happy to be here! I will waste no time getting to the roundup and the things I’ve been thinking about and reading this week! I promise to stop using exclamation points now! 🙂

“and so I sing”  A week ago tonight, I went to a reading sponsored by the Peninsula Literary Series. I love this series and the writers and artists they bring together in the very cool space at Gallery House. At any rate, after the reading, several of us went out for beverages and writerly conversation and the question came up: “Why do you write?” Always an interesting question and the answer that leaps to my mouth unbidden is: “Because I can’t not write.” Sigh.

There are a some famous answers to the question “Why do you write?” George Orwell answers the question like this:

“My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to m yself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”  (from this essay)

Joan Didion has said:

“Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind? (from this essay)

But the winner is, in my humble opinion — and I might be biased — but the winner is: Emily Dickinson in her April 26, 1862 letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson:

“I made no verse, but one or two, until this winter, sir. I had a terror since September, I could tell to none; and so I sing, as the boy does of the burying ground, because I am afraid.” (from Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present)

(BTW, she wins not for the content of her reasons itself, but because of the way she wrote it. She wins!)

As for me, despite the truth in my knee-jerk response, I think I write mainly to figure things out — to understand things that mystify or puzzle me. And also to spread the word. There are some things the world needs to know and apparently I am compelled to tell them.

What about you — if you are the writing type — why do you write? Share in comments if you like.

another room of one’s own  I came across a cool project on Facebook this week, and I wanted to spread the word (speaking of spreading the word). The wonderful folks at Sundress Publications have founded an artist’s residency program and space called Firefly Farms. Here is more info directly from the horses’ mouths:

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) was founded in February 2013 at Firefly Farms in Karns, Tennessee. Nestled in an old-fashioned “holler” just twenty minutes from downtown Knoxville, this picturesque 29-acre farm is the perfect artists’ getaway; visitors can hone their creative crafts as they escape the routine of modern life. Whether hiking, camping, foraging, or hunting, SAFTA guests will reconnect with nature and be inspired by a part of the Appalachia landscape that is often forgotten. Attendees can also expect to learn a host of new skills from the staff to enrich their work.

Because I know how important having the time and space to create is, I wanted to spread the word about this worthy endeavor. If you’re moved to make a donation toward the completion of this project, the link is here.

and a poem  Sandra Beasley wrote a post this week about the books we don’t write. Or the books we write that never become books. Here’s an excerpt:

One of the brutalities of publishing is that a collection of worthy pieces does not make a worthy whole. Just because you’ve placed every poem with a literary journal does not mean the manuscript has the heft and clarity of vision that’s going to win a book prize. Just because you’ve placed three of your chapters as personal essays does not mean your memoir proposal is going to sell. For publishers to make the forward investment of an advance, production, distribution and publicity, the work has to be not only solid, it has to glimmer. It’s not enough that the editor likes the book; the editor has to fall asleep dreaming about the book. That seems like a hopelessly high expectation–“Just bottle the lightning, please”–but it’s the way it is. 

And she is right about this, no doubt. But I also think there are books that never become books, or that take a really long time to become books, just because of bad luck, or editorial preferences, or po-world trends, or the malevolent forces in the universe, or, I dunno, maybe because of Maleficent herself. I’m reading a book like this now.

Although I don’t know the story of this book’s journey into bookdom, what I do know is that it was written by a Stegner Fellow — whose books frequently snatch up prestigious prizes shortly after their authors’ tenure as Fellows. I do know that I’m reading this book and the work is of high caliber — really excellent work — and that the book holds together as a book — it is not just a bunch of poems shoved together between two covers.

I’m not an editor, but I’ve been falling asleep dreaming about this book, which, if I’m reading the poet’s website correctly, has been the labor of over 16 years, and was just recently published by Jackleg Press. This book is Trapline by Caroline Goodwin, and today’s poem is the second poem of the collection. I was sure that HTML was not going to cooperate with the form of this poem, and I couldn’t find it online, so here is a photo:

*
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–by Caroline Goodwin
*

That last line just about split me. You can buy Trapline here.

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading.

just gratitude

Inlaid woodwork of the choir of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, by Giovan Francesco Capoferri design by Lorenzo Lotto. wikimedia

Chaos: Inlaid woodwork of the choir of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, by Giovan Francesco Capoferri design by Lorenzo Lotto. wikimedia

Reader, I know it’s Hermit Monday but there’s something I have to tell you. It’s this: just gratitude

Last week, in addition to winter contagion those of us who live in the Wee Small House experienced several other — ahem — inconvenient occurrences.

I could make a list but, seriously, you.would.not.believe.me.

The Spanish language has a way of expressing the concept of a thing than which no (insert adjective here)-er thing can be imagined.

For example, Spanish speakers would call a man than which no shorter man can be imagined el corto.

I like to think of last week as semana la loca — the week than which no crazier week can be imagined.

[I hope I am remembering all this Spanish correctly — it has been one million years since my last cláse del Español].

But through it all, one thing kept me going: just gratitude.

Gratitude that all that laundry I did was done on automatic washing and drying machines that are right outside my kitchen door. Gratitude that I will be able to pay the water and gas bill. Gratitude for remedies that comforted the afflicted — for example, thank you, Universe, for Advil and for Benadryl. And for triptans — thank you, thank you for triptans. Gratitude that no one was still in diapers for all the fun we had last week (not that I don’t lurve little people in diapers, but… y’know).

Gratitude for friends and family who cheered me on and held me up. I get by…

Gratitude for art and beauty — the small bits of each that I’ve stashed around the Wee, Small House and the big bits I could see out my windows: clouds, sun, a night-black crow.

Gratitude for words, and books, and blank pieces of paper — even though I didn’t encounter any of these things until Saturday, I knew they would wait for me.

And then also the reminder that there is no such thing as a normal week, and no such thing as ideal conditions.

And guess what. I now have a writing studio. Do you want to see it?

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Do you see it there perched on the edge of the glass vase? I call it the Wee, Small Hermitage.

Hermitage meaning “the dwelling of a hermit, especially when small and remote.” From the Greek erêmos “uninhabited.”

Except by me, that is.

Yes now it’s Hermit Monday. I’m going to unlink myself from the Interwebs and enter the Wee, Small Hermitage (figuratively, of course). I’m going to give thanks for the empty, quiet, healthy (fingers crossed) house; the words; the blank white page; the uninhabited space that’s waiting for me to fill it. Amen.